A security company that conducts video surveillance across central Melbourne, guards the MCG and provides services to defence, mining and other critical industries will be owned by a self-made Chinese billionaire who earned his fortune on the Hong Kong and Shanghai markets.
The pending sale of Securecorp to a subsidiary of China Security and Surveillance Technology, a group of companies owned by Forbes rich-lister Guoshen Tu, has prompted the MCG to review its newly signed, four-year security contract.
CSST has links to China’s state security and surveillance bureaucracy. Runsen Li, a director of CSST since 2007, was head of the commission of science and technology within China’s ministry of public security.
Labor MP Michael Danby urged defence providers and mining companies to review any contracts held with Securecorp, a company that promotes itself as a “trusted partner in the defence industry’’.
Mr Danby expressed concern that the $157.5 million sale price would not trigger scrutiny by the Foreign Investment Review Board. Under the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeover Act, FIRB does not examine sales of “sensitive businesses” below $252m.
“We welcome Chinese investment but this is an example of one size doesn’t fit all,’’ Mr Danby said. “I would like to know the defence sites they are a trusted partner of before I say we shouldn’t have any concerns.”
Securecorp was founded by Craig Harwood, a former Special Operations Group operative with Victoria Police, and has expanded nationally to become one of Australia’s largest security providers. The company yesterday declined to provide details of the work it does in defence and mining and at other critical infrastructure sites.
The company has sought to reassure clients the shift in ownership will not result in changes to its Australian-based management team or its services.
Securecorp has a prominent presence in Melbourne, where its patrol cars are highly visible on CBD streets and its uniform officers guard major sporting and cultural events at the MCG, the Phillip Island grand prix, the spring racing carnival, the Melbourne Museum and Monash and Victoria universities.
It also provides security at Westfield shopping centres across Australia, monitors CCTV cameras for the Ipswich City Council southwest of Brisbane, and holds contracts with the ANZ bank and Queensland rail.
MCG chief executive Stephen Gough said the pending change of ownership of Securecorp had prompted a review of the stadium’s new security contract, signed in November. “With any of our contracts, if during the course of the contract there is any change of ownership, they have to seek consent from us,’’ he said.
“We have been notified. We are now in the process of trying to understand what this means.’’
A spokesman for the City of Melbourne said its contract with Securecorp would expire in November and would not be reviewed before then.
Guoshen Tu, a self-styled corporate raider described as a “mysterious’’ figure by the Chinese press, is estimated by Forbes magazine to have a personal wealth of $1 billion.